18 months is a wonderful age. In recent weeks Hannah’s cognitive ability and fine motor skills have exploded! We can almost see the change in each day. One of the most recent, unexpected developments is that of the little helper.
Hannah wants to be a part of everything. She would much rather be participating in what the adults are doing than sit by herself and play with her toys. She has perfected the loud wail at the kitchen gate, which she produces any time that she is locked out of a menial task such as unpacking the dishwasher. Hannah loves to help and we are really happy to involve her in every activity that we can.
Of course, the help of an 18 month old kid is not always helpful in the traditional sense of the word. Often, involving Hannah in the activity is a sure-fire way to significantly extend the time that the task takes to complete. Nevertheless, Emma and I both feel that it is really important to make Hannah feel like she is helping, and that her input is valued. We believe that encouraging her now will help Hannah to develop positive attitudes towards household tasks and chores in the future.
The Top 5 Ways in Which Hannah Likes to Be a Little Helper
1. Unpacking the dishwasher
Hannah comes running whenever the dishwasher door is open. She is incredibly eager to be a part of the daily ritual of unpacking. Hannah is getting better at it too, She knows where certain things go, and she is slowly coming to the understanding that some things (such as knives, glasses etc.) are not for her to touch. Hannah diligently removes all plastic containers from the top shelf of the dishwasher (yes, she can reach!) and then reaches up on her tippy-toes to place them on the drying rack.
There is still the occasional (regular) hairy moment, when Hannah picks up something highly breakable. Luckily, she tends to just try and ask us what she is supposed to do with it, rather than drop or throw it. So far we have not had any accidents.
2. Hang out/take in laundry
This is one of Hannah’s favourite pursuits. When she sees one of us heading out the back door with a washing basket, she quickly races to the laundry to find her Frozen crocs (Don’t judge me, they were given to her second-hand). Hannah loves to help with this activity, and she does so by pulling pegs out of the peg basket and handing them to the waiting parent.
Unfortunately, Hannah hasn’t yet learnt to distinguish between taking the washing out and bringing it back in again. That means that even when we are bringing in the washing, Hannah insists on handing us pegs. I have tried to introduce the task of “patting down” the clean laundry when taking it back in, with some success. It has definitely reduced the amount of extra pegs that I have to return to the peg basket.
3. Folding laundry
I don’t know where Hannah gets her love of the laundry from, because both Emma and I hate it. Hopefully it means that she will happily take over from us once she is capable of doing so (keep dreaming dad). Hannah loves to help fold the clean washing. Initially that meant emptying the entire contents of a washing basket all over the floor, one item at a time.
These days she understands the concept of taking washing out of the basket and placing it on the dining table, she just doesn’t understand the techniques of folding, or the concept of placing like items in the same pile. What we end up with is a Hannah pile of clothes at the end of the table (any maybe one or two on the floor). It doesn’t matter, she always seems pretty pleased with her efforts.
4. Shutting doors/gates
Hannah loves to shut doors and gates. She can now reach the door handles in the house and she is quite expert at manipulating them. She is also extremely diligent about ensuring that gates are properly closed. Hannah is so good at these jobs that she closes doors and gates that don’t need to be closed.
5. Packing away toys
This one is great, and I think it has a lot to do with our attitude towards Hannah’s involvement in household tasks. She is an expert at packing away her toys and books at the end of the day. All it takes now is the simple words “pack away” and Hannah gets stuck right in. We rarely leave her to do it herself, after all, housework is a lot more enjoyable with a bit of company. Packing away time is usually a family affair and we get it done quickly, together.
Who knows if allowing Hannah to help us with these tasks will really make a difference to her attitude as she gets older? I will not be at all surprised if she hits a certain age and doesn’t want to be our little helper anymore. Have you had any success with introducing your children to chores and responsibility? I would love to know what worked (or didn’t work) for you! Be sure to leave your ideas in the comments.